By Jon Weisman
Brandon McCarthy is starting Sunday for the Dodgers. Not the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Not another Dodgers farm team. The Los Angeles Dodgers.
McCarthy last pitched for the Dodgers on April 25, 2015, shortly before he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The expectation at the time was that he would be out until July 2016, and here we are.
Dave Roberts, who revealed the McCarthy news today, said there is no specific pitch limit on McCarthy, who turns 33 on July 7. In his fourth and most recent rehab start, McCarthy went five innings and 72 pitches for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’ll be on five days’ rest
“He’s a full go,” Roberts said. “We kind of sped it up a little bit because of the circumstances, but Brandon’s excited about getting back and being active, and we expect him to pitch well on Sunday.
“With the circumstance of what happened to Kersh in Pittsburgh, we figured we had some options. In talking to Brandon and figuring out where he’s at, with this trade, things kind of fell in line with his start date.”
Julio Urías, whose turn in the rotation was to come Sunday, will instead make an Independence Day start on five days’ rest.
McCarthy made four starts for the Dodgers in 2015, striking out 29 in 23 innings but allowing 15 runs, including nine home runs. In his third start, he pitched six shutout innings against Colorado, and it was at that point he started to wonder about his health.
“I noticed that it was hurting a decent amount, and I just kind of was equating it to last year dealing with tendinitis and left the game,” he said. “I had a normal week in between where I wasn’t really limited. I was kind of encouraged by that, that it didn’t feel terrible. And then, even warming up for the game (April 25 at San Diego), it felt OK — I didn’t feel as bad as I thought it might. … And then once I really got into the game, it was hurting.”
McCarthy said he has wondered whether he made things worse by staying in the game until the fifth inning, but he didn’t seem convinced one way or another and said he didn’t plan to dwell on that mystery. He did acknowledge that he continued to pitch hurt against San Diego because after allowing a first-inning home run to Justin Upton, he was getting outs, retiring 12 in a row at one point.
“Hucking stuff toward home plate and hoping to God they hit it at someone, which they had done for about four innings,” McCarthy said. “And in (the fifth) inning, they stopped hitting them to people. I knew if I was going to get outs, then I could at least keep getting through this. If there going to hit the ball over the fence, then I have no business being here.
In other news about recovering pitchers, Roberts said that Alex Wood has been throwing at a distance of 150 feet but not off a mound, while Yimi Garcia has hit 92 mph off a mound and might start a rehab assignment in two weeks.
As noted earlier today, Hyun-Jin Ryu makes his next rehab start tonight for Rancho Cucamonga.